What Happens to the Brain After a Car Accident?

Updated on June 15, 2022

Every year, approximately three-million people are seriously injured in car accidents. Of these injuries, the ones affecting the brain are the most devastating. When an accident occurs, the driver and passengers can receive a blow to the head. This impact can result in a brain injury that can have effects that range from a moderate concussion to a coma. 

What happens immediately after a brain injury

After an injury to the head you may suffer from bruising, bleeding, swelling, and damage to the brain. The brain tissue can be pushed against the bone of the skull. Blood vessels can rupture, burst, and tear. They then release blood into various sections of the brain in an unusual manner.

A flood of blood in the brain will cause injury and other detrimental cognitive symptoms. The brain will remain damaged. The functions controlled by these areas can emerge as challenges in an injured person’s life.

Types of brain injury and what happens in the brain

Some types of brain injury may cause temporary or short-term brain problems in normal brain function. These problems may include difficulty in how you move, speak, or focus. You may also have lingering physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, sleep disorders, and nausea. Serious TBI may lead to severe or permanent disability. Others may lead to death.

Some injuries are known to be primarily because the damage is immediate. Additional outcomes may be secondary, meaning that they can occur gradually over a few hours. These secondary brain injuries are a result of various reactive processes that occur after the first head trauma.

Penetrating brain injury happens when the brain is pierced during a car accident. A metal or object may penetrate the brain tissue. Penetrative brain injury damages a single part of the victim’s brain. Non-penetrating brain injury is caused by an external force that moves the brain into the skull. Some car accidents can cause penetrating and non-penetrating brain injury in one person.

Diagnosing injuries caused by a car accident

The diagnosis of a brain injury caused by a car accident can be made using several methods to determine the severity of brain damage. Some of the tests used include:

  • Imaging tests, including CT Scan and MRI to view brain injuries
  • Glasgow Coma Scale to test for possible symptoms of brain injury. The test evaluates how an injured person follows simple directions to determine the extent of brain injury and damage
  • Questioning the people who were present at the time of the accident and injury


The recovery process of a patient who just had a brain injury can be a new journey for them and their family. Treatment may range from rest, pain medication, surgery, and drugs used to anti-seizures. The type of treatment chosen depends on the impact of the injury on the brain. Brain injuries may also need the injured individual to go through a rehabilitation program, including speech and physical therapy, to regain pre-injury functions.

Some people with mild brain injuries may not need treatment apart from rest and pain relievers. Treatment needs to focus on symptom relief. Monitoring by a qualified healthcare practitioner with surgery specialties is crucial to note the worsening of brain injury symptoms.

It is important to prevent future concussions. Even though most people will recover fully from their first concussion in a few weeks, the recovery rate from another concussion is slower.

If you or your loved one has had an accident, they will be diagnosed with a TBI. It is important to enroll them in a brain bank so that they receive better treatment options. Clinical research trials involving people with TBI offer researchers an opportunity to increase their knowledge of TBI.

When a Brain Injury Is the Result of Negligence

People with brain injuries can end up with many medical bills or even the need for a lifetime of care. This would be difficult for anyone to cope with, but it can be especially challenging if the injury never had to happen. When a brain injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, you can file a lawsuit to recover your damages and cover the cost of future treatment. 

According to personal injury lawyer Jim Parrish of The Parrish Law Firm, insurance companies will fight to avoid paying an adequate settlement. He knows this firsthand, because he used to represent insurance companies. An attorney can tell you what evidence you’ll need and they can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company.

If you’re struggling in the aftermath of an accident that caused brain damage, an attorney can take the pressure off of you by making sure you get the compensation you’ll need to move forward from the injury. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.